2014 - What I Learned as a Business Owner
Last month, I celebrated my first anniversary as co-owner at Studio FJ. James first hired me in 2012, and though I’ve always had some say in the company, this year was a completely different game. It’s difficult to explain just how much has changed, but I can tell you a few things I’ve learned.
1. We’re All on the Same Team
There are people out there whose sole purpose in life, it seems, is to make you feel like the bug to their proverbial windshield. After meeting a few of them, you may start to develop some serious defenses to survive. It’s totally natural. Just don’t forget how to let the good people in.
Most people, like I talked about in my last post, want to like you. They usually already like your work, because they chose to hire you. At the end of the day, you all want the same thing: a kickass website. So when they have questions or don’t immediately agree with you, remember that. They aren’t jerks. They bring a wealth of their own experiences to the table, and ultimately, their different perspective may help you see a bigger picture to create a better product.
2. You Don’t Have to be Smooth
Last January, I had this idea that “co-owner” meant I had to be able to walk into any room with a big smile and instantly be best friends with everyone. As your classic introvert, you can imagine how I felt about that.
Don’t get me wrong, I love meeting new people and my favorite part of what I do is helping other business owners expand their reach online. Their passion is infectious and watching their growth, knowing I helped, is absolutely priceless.
I’m not, however, your typical “sales” personality. I hate small talk and my face has a way of broadcasting whatever I’m thinking—even if I manage to keep it from coming out of my mouth.
Luckily, I found out that client personalities come in as many shapes and sizes as the rest of us. There are super shy, yet super successful, business owners out there. Lots of them. It boggles the mind.
What’s even better is that my practical personality is the perfect compliment to the no-nonsense, the shy, and the “just not really that interested in your life story” types. I would even go as far as to say I have more meaningful relationships with our clients than I would if I tried to be anyone else.
I know, I know. It’s cheesy. “Be yourself” is the oldest, most tired piece of wisdom out there. But it was therapeutic to learn that it was totally okay for clients to get to know me slowly. To not be BFFs right out of the gate. Because, over the course of the project, I almost always find myself in a meeting or a phone call where we’re all cracking up, genuinely enjoying each other. I don’t think everyone can say that about their web people.
3. Adaptability Will Get You Everywhere
Last year started with getting used to working from home. Like I talked about in this post, it wasn't always easy and came with lots of preconceived notions on how much work I actually do. Ten months in, I had it all figured out. I had a set schedule, regular in-person meetings to keep client relations strong (and my pjs from becoming a uniform) in addition to planned friend outings to avoid becoming a hermit. James and I had talked about getting an office once he moved back from Durham, NC, but ultimately came to the conclusion that we didn’t really need it. The system worked great, so why fix it?
Then, one day between meetings at The Red Cup, I spied a little sign on the counter. It advertised a small office space available upstairs in the cheery green building across the parking lot. It was as close to fate as I’ve ever been.
Three weeks of DIY renovation later, we had a beautiful, clean, modern office smack dab in the cool part of town. I heard the "Hallelujah Chorus" on repeat in my head for about a month.
Then, inevitably, reality hit. I had a hairy commute again. Limited parking. Chatty people coming in and out when I was trying to get stuff done. No control over the thermostat. A new mail person who didn’t visit us on a regular basis.
It was the office of my dreams, but still the opposite of everything I’d worked so hard to learn the first part of last year on top of a crazy-busy project schedule. So I had to adapt. Having The Red Cup within reach definitely helped. :)
Moving to a new office is only one of many changes we’ve made this year, too. Our process has become even more thorough over the past 6 months. We’ve also adapted our project materials. We’ve officially added hosting, photography and content writing to our services. Heck, even the way we introduce FJ to potential clients is different from last year.
Even after seven years in business, we’re still finding new ways to make our lives and our clients’ lives a little easier. It keeps us from getting too bogged down in the day-to-day helps us stay relevant.
~ Steph (Twitter)